UFC announces Asian edition of 'Dana White's Contender Series'

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
SHANGHAI, CHINA - NOVEMBER 20:  (L-R) Forrest Griffin, UFC Vice President Athlete Development, Lawrence Epstein, UFC Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Schleimer, UFC Chief Financial Officer and Kevin Chang, Vice President UFC Asia-Pacific pose for a photo during an onsite visit prior to the  UFC Performance Institute Press Conference on November 20, 2018 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
The UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai, China, will host the Asian edition of "Dana White's Contender Series." (Getty Images)

With Zhang Weili, a popular champion from China on its roster, the UFC took the next step on Wednesday toward improving its roster of Asian talent when it announced the creation of the Asian edition of the “Dana White Contender Series.”

The series will be recorded and produced at the UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai, a 93,000-square foot MMA training and development facility that is the largest of its kind in the world. It is three times larger than the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas that was the first of its kind to open.

The “Contender Series” has become a good source of talent for the UFC over the last three years in the U.S., producing quality fighters like Maycee Barber and Sean O’Malley, among many others.

The UFC has begun regularly producing shows from China and other countries in Asia. The hope is that the UFC will be able to tap into the interest in MMA on the continent to find more talent.

Men and women in each of the UFC’s 11 weight classes will be used.

“One of my favorite parts of my job is looking for up-and-coming talent,” UFC president Dana White said in a statement. “There’s no area in the world right now with more potential MMA talent than Asia. We’re going to use Dana White’s Contender Series to find these fighters, develop them, and give them the opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in combat sports.”

The UFC plans to release more information about the series’ start at a later date.

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